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Some truths about opium Giles, Herbert Allen, 1845-1935 1923

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■>  I
Some Truths About
LL.D. (Aberd.)
Professor of Chinese in the
University of Cambridge
W.   HEFFER   &   SONS   LTD.
1923 The University of British Columbia Library
tit Some Truths  About Opium
[The following article was forwarded early
in April to The Times for publication. I
cannot say that I expected The Times to publish
it, being as it is diametrically opposed to the
policy advocated in that paper, though I
thought there might be a chance of admission
for the views of an opponent who lived many
years in China and has perhaps made a more
special study of Chinese social life than any
member of the Conference. The editor, however, was good enough to return the article
promptly, leaving me with no sense of grievance
Then, remembering that Sir James Knowles,
for whom I had formerly written a number of
articles of various kinds, was in the habit of
giving both sides of a question, I sent along my
paper to The XIX Century and After. The
editor kept it for six weeks, until the Conference
which I had hoped it would anticipate was well
under way, and then returned it, too late for
any other monthly, with regrets that he could
not make use of my "interesting article "~ 4 SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
probably meant as editorial solatium—on the
ground of too many contributions already in
The Opium Question being now once more
to the front in the form of another Conference,
it may not be unprofitable to recapitulate
certain known facts and to bring out a few
other important points which do not so far
appear to have been noticed.
It is generally supposed that the vice of
opium-smoking was introduced into China by
the British East India Company, and was later
on forced upon the Chinese people by the
strength of the British empire. This view has
lately been put forward in The Chinese
Student for November, 1922, an excellent
publication issued by young Chinese who are
being educated in this country, and who are
probably as unaware of the real history of
opium in China as the ingenuous philanthropist
who sends his guinea to swell the funds of the
Anti-Opium Society. Thus it comes about
that The%Chinese Student boldly declares
that "China has been far more sinned against
than sinning/' than which nothing could be
further from the truth. SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM 5
The "sleep-compelling poppy" (Papaver
somniferum, L.) is called by the Chinese ying-su
jar-maize; the first word referring to the shape
of the capsule, the second to the seeds contained
in it, and not, as stated below, to the slenderness
of the stalk. There are several other ancient
fancy-names, such as "rice-bag," "Imperial
rice," and "grain-like." This poppy is not a
native of Asia. It is said by Sir Ray Lankester
to be a cultivated variety of P. setigerum, and to
have been carried to the Far East from the
Levant. It is not one of the eleven flowering
plants recorded in the pre-Confucian Odes.
1.—The ying-su was first mentioned in Chinese
literature by Kuo To-t'o, whose exact date is
uncertain but may fairly be assigned, at the
latest, to the 8th century of our era. He
published a work On Planting in which
there is a chapter headed "On Planting the
Poppy." We are there told that "the poppy
should be planted by night at the mid-autumn
festival, in order to secure large flowers with
capsules full of seeds."—What for?
2.—The next mention of the poppy comes
from a writer, named Yung T'ao, with whom
we are on firmer ground, for we know that he 6 SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
graduated in a.d. 834.   His contribution is in
verse, and runs literally as follows:
The wanderer under distant skies
is quit of sorrow's gloom,
When on ahead he first descries
the poppy-flowers abloom.
It must be obvious that "poppy flowers" here
stands for "poppy-fields."—Again, what for?
3.—In 973, the first Emperor of the Sung
dynasty gave orders for the preparation of a
new Herbarium, in which the poppy was
inserted as a cure for dysentery.
4.—In the nth century, Su Tung-p'o, the
famous statesman and poet who flourished a.d.
1036-1101, wrote the following lines, which are
here translated for the first time and are
important as providing the earliest recognition
of the narcotic value of the poppy.
I built a small house to the west of the city,
.And stored it with pictures and books;
Around and about the window-frames
The pine and the bamboo spread out their shade.
I pulled up the thorns and cleared the ground,
In order to make good vegetables grow; SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM J
But my gardener said to me,
"The poppy is the plant to grow here.
Ying means small Hke a jar,
Su means slender like maize (see above).
It may be planted with wheat,
Or it will ripen with millet.
Its shoots do for a spring vegetable,
Its fruit may be compared with autumn grain.
Mashed to the consistency of cow's-milk,
Boiled to a divine gruel,
'Tis good for the weakness of old age,
When appetite for food and drink fails,
When meat cannot be digested,
And when vegetables lose their flavour.
Use a willow pestle and a stone bowl,
Mix with liquid honey, and simmer,
.And it will be pleasant to the taste and good for
the throat,
Soothing the lungs and nourishing the stomach."
Then for three years I barred my door,
Having no occasion to go home.
There was an old Buddhist hermit,
And we used sit silent together
But when we had drunk a single cup of this gruel,
We would burst into happy laughter.
So that my visit to Ying-chou
Was just like a pleasure trip to Mt Lu. SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
In another poem by the same author, "The
Poppy," a Buddhist priest advised a decoction
of some species of thyme, adding that his boy
could prepare a bowl of poppy-broth.
5.—The next mention of the poppy occurs in
the poems of Hsieh K'o, whose date is circa a.d.
1120.   One extract runs thus:
In our garden we crush the poppy-seeds,
And make a broth which is better if mixed with
It is an elixir for want of appetite in middle-life;
Why worry over cooking wretched rice-gruel?
6.—Another poet of the Sung dynasty a.d.
960-1260, Yang Wen-li, has some lines headed
The PoppyrFlower," referring to its seeds:
Birds twitter, bees hum, and butterflies flitter
Vieing with one another in announcing God's
summons to the Ruler of Flowers.
The myrmidons of ^the Sun-God have no offerings
to make,
So they seek to borrow from the spring wind ten
days' allowance of grain.
It is in a botanical work of the 12th century
that we first hear of hashish, which however is
only dealt with as a medicine.   A romantic SOME TRUTHS .ABOUT OPIUM
novel of the 13th century has an account of a
famous doctor (d. a.d. 220) who performed
surgical operations on patients under the
influence of hashish as an anaesthetic; and
although there is no real evidence forthcoming
of such achievements, the mere existence of the
story makes it clear that at an early date the
narcotic properties of hashish were well known
in China.
7.—The poppy-flower is also mentioned by a
wild spirit, named Feng Tzu-ch'en, who flourished under the Mongol dynasty circa 1280:
Either with a frosted chiysanthemum in my
Or a flaming poppy as a hat-pin.
8.—Under the Ming dynasty we have the
famous eunuch, CMng Ho, who conducted
several naval expeditions, in 1412-15 reaching
Ceylon where he set up a stMe which has recently
been unearthed. The practice of opium-
smoking is said to have been introduced by him,
but this seems to be only a tradition.
9.—Lin Hung, circa a.d. 1426, has a note
"On Poppy-juice Fish," which is prepared by
carefully washing the seeds, straining and
warming the juice, sprinkling it with vinegar,
B 10
forming it into lumps, and then cutting these
up into flakes Hke fish-scales. Unfortunately,
we are left to guess what is to be done with these
scales when ready.
io.—Wang Shih-mou, who graduated in 1559,
wrote among a number of other works Notes
on Flowers in which after remarking that the
poppy is second only to the white peony in
luxuriance of bloom, remarks that it must be
carefuUy cultivated (obviously for commercial
purposes), and is beautiful only at a distance.
He adds a point which "was recorded, from hearsay only, by the present writer in 1875, and
which was much disputed at the time, viz. that
" the seeds of the poppy are Hable to deprive a
man of his viriHty," which can only mean that
the poppy was weU-known as a narcotic.
n.—We now come to the great Chinese
Materia Medica, by Li Shih-chen, which was
completed in 1578 and published towards the
end of the 16th century. The author deals first
with the plant (ying su), its colours, the shape
of the capsule, its seeds, its various names, its
medicinal properties, etc., of which the foUowing
are examples:—"Its tender shoots make a very
tasty vegetable."—"The fine white seeds in the SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
capsule may be boiled and eaten with rice, or
mashed with water may be strained and eaten
with bean-curd."—It is recommended for
diabetes, cough and dysentery; "but though its
efficacy is quickly felt, unless taken with caution
it wiU kill a man as though with a sword."—
"It wiU cure dysentery Hke a god, but is very
constipating, and wfll cause vomiting, on which
account people are afraid to take it."
Li Shih-chen deals separately with "opium,"
properly so called, under the name of A-fu-yung t
the first character of which, by a sHght change
of sound, he explains as " our," thefu-yung being
the hibiscus mutabilis; q.d. "our hisbiscus,"
which he says was introduced from T'ien-fang,
'the holy square," the Kaaba at Mecca, now
used for Arabia. But a-fu-yung is the Chinese
equivalent of the Arabic afiyun opium. He also
gives the name a-p'ien or ya-p'ien, which he is
unable to explain. It is in use at the present
day and is Hkewise regarded as a corruption of
He goes on to describe the pricking and
scraping the capsule, and gives a number of
prescriptions for its use medically. "For
dysentery or diarrhoea, take j^-q part each of an
ounce of opium, of putchuk, of coptis teeta, and 12
of pai shu (not identified). Mash these and
make with rice into pills about as big as a small
bean, one to be given to an adult and half a one
to old people or children."—"Too frequent
use for dysentery or blind piles wiU deprive a
man of his viriHty." He also notes that opium
in the form of piUs is largely sold at the capital
as an aphrodisiac, but declares that this is only
a trick of the quack doctor. This beHef, however, is still prevalent.
12.—Two more writers of the Ming dynasty
mention the poppy; Kao Lien of the 17th
century as a beautiful flower, and Wang Hsiang-
chin, circa 1640, as himself a cultivator of the
plant.   They do not use the term opium.
The reader is now fairly weU in control of all
the chief facts recorded about opium down to
the beginning of the Manchu dynasty, a.d. 1644,
and we may pass on to the British East India
Company, the estabHshment of which in China
cannot be assigned to any exact date, but the
exclusive rights of which came to an end in
1834. However, it was in 1773 that the
Company began to deal in smaU parcels of
opium, the import of which had previously
been in the hands of Portuguese merchants. In
1796 this trade was forbidden by the Chinese SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
Government; but prohibitions under the Manchu s
were always regarded by the people as matters
of form (chii win) rather than matters of law.
Down to quite recent years, if not under the
RepubHc, every incoming territorial magistrate
made a point of issuing a stereotyped proclamation threatening the severest punishments to aU
scoundrels who might venture to open gambling-
houses, opium dens, disorderly houses, etc., etc.
Yet nothing ever happened, except transference
of bulHon or notes.
By 1820 the import of the drug had considerably increased, and in 1838 a more serious
attempt was made to check the trade; not
because of its immoraHty, but because of the
larger and larger export of silver which began
to alarm the authorities.
In 1839 a great patriot but a poor statesman,
Lin Ts£-hsu, was sent as Commissioner to
Canton, with fuU powers and strict orders to
bring the trade to an end. Lin opened his
administration by the harmless poHcy of
writing a long letter to Queen Victoria, in which
he stated that "the ways of God are without
partiaHty, and there is no sanction for injuring
others in order to benefit oneself." He went on
to say that "as regards rhubarb, tea, the fine r
raw silk of Chehkiang, and similar rich and
valuable products of China, should foreign
nations be deprived of them, they would be
without the means of continuing life." He then
pointed out that "considering the powerful sway
of the Celestial Court over its own subjects and
barbarians alike, there would be no difficulty in
at once taking the Hves of offenders." He .would
be satisfied with admonition only, provided the
Queen would "immediately issue a mandate for
the coUection of all the opium, that the whole of
it may be cast into the depths of the sea." Then
peace and prosperity for everybody.
Lin's next step was to seize all the opium he
could lay his hands on, to the amount of 20,291
chests. This he destroyed in pubHc, on the 16th
of June, by mixing it with water in large
trenches dug for the purpose. Lin's action was
not an original idea of his own, nor the first
attempt of the kind. In February, 1835, large
quantities of opium had been seized under
orders from the Viceroy and Grovernor, and
instructions were given that it should be burnt
on the MiHtary Parade-ground. The burning,
however, was not carried out in pubHc; and all
persons concerned, Chinese and foreigners alike,
were weU aware that the whole thing was a sham, SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
except for the profits reaped by the authorities
The so-called "Opium War" foUowed Lin's
action; not primarily propter hoc, as it has
pleased many to assert, but post hoc, and also
post aud propter a long series of arbitrary and
offensively tyrannical acts against the Hves and
properties of British merchants.
By the Treaty of Nanking, 1842, a fine of
twenty-one millions of doUars in all was imposed
on the Chinese Government; but the opium
question was left in a state of flux, and so
remained until England, this time with France,
was forced into another war, ending with the
capture of Peking in i860 and the ratification
of the Treaty of 1858, wherein the import of
opium was legalized.
This legalization, the soundest step ever taken,
and now again wisely put forward by Sir Francis
Aglen, soon called into existence an anti-opium
movement among a number of no doubt weU-
meaning persons, who however would have been
much better employed in regularizing the drink
question in their own country. It was led by a
periodical called The Friend of China which
in spite of the honesty of purpose of its supporters
from a purely reHgious point of'view, may now, i6
by the Hght of subsequent events, be regarded
as perhaps the worst enemy that China has
ever had.
Opium-smoking continued to be carried on, as
always, under the nominal ban of the government and equally always with the connivance
of officials, many of whom were habitual smokers,
some in moderation and some to excess, just as
we see in the case of alcohol. In fact, China
which for many centuries had been an excessively drunken nation, had turned voluntarily
to the quieter and much more harmless pleasures
of opium. Against the exaggerated ad cap-
tandum statements of the Anti-Opium Society,
based upon reports by missionaries, may be set
the testimony of many distinguished men,
diplomats, physicians, Consular officers, and
others, who failed to see in the consumption of
opium a curse as great as that of alcohol in
England and America, and whose remarks
on the subject are stiU available:—Sir R.
Alcock, Sir E. Hornby, Dr. Ayres, Dr. P. Smith,
Dr. Osgood, Sir John Davis, Editors of Hongkong Daily Press, Shanghai Courier,. N.-C.
Daily News, C. T. Gardner, C.M.G., Edward
Yeates, F.R.C.S.I., Sir R. Hart, C. C. Clements,
and many others. SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
Dr. James Watson, Customs Medical Officer
at Newchang and an old resident in China,
writes in his Report, 1877, which covers two
years, about the various Chinese patients who
have passed under his hands, as follows:—" AR
of them have been smoking opium for many
years, but with the exception of ten per cent.,
the amount consumed was not greatly, occasionally not at all, increased from year to year.
They were able to attend to their duties, were
healthy and active, and enjoyed a good appetite.
In reference to these, the ninety per cent, the
conclusion I have come to is that opium, so far
as I could see, did them no good, but it did not
manifestly injure them."
One more opinion from a missionary. The
Rev. F. Galpin refused in 1882 to sign the
petition to the House of Commons against the
importation of Indian opium into China and
expressed his "disbeHef of many of the statements contained therein." He said, "I beg to
express my hearty dissent from the idea that
the Chinese people or Government are reaUy
anxious to remove the abuse of opium. The
remedy has always been, as it is now, in their
own hands. Neither do I believe that if the
importation of Indian opium ceased at once, the i8
Chinese Government would set about destroying
a very fruitful means of revenue. On the
contrary, I feel sure that the growth of Chinese
opium would be increased forthwith.'' .And such
indeed was the case.
In 1908, the Manchus made what purported
to be a serious attempt to get rid of opium
altogether. Anti-opium piUs, which of course,
contained morphia, were put on the market,
with deadly effect; so that by 1909 we read in
The Daily Telegraph (Jan. 1) of a "Cure
worse than the Disease." .Also in the London
and China Telegraph that "the Opium
AboHtion was, for a time, entirely genuine. The
reform at present in the Capital is nothing but a
farce." MeanwhUe, the Singapore Commission
came to the sensible conclusion that "the
question should be dealt with by increased
control, and not by prohibition;" and at the
same time Mr. R. Willis, Consul-General at
Moukden drew attention to the increased use of
morphia by subcutaneous injections, which
threatened to become a worse evU than the
disease it was intended to cure. It is curious
to be able to note here that so far back as 1837
a missionary, no doubt with strictly honest
intentions, actually suggested that "morphia SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
should be introduced as a substitute for crude
In 1910, a temple at Foochow was lent as a
hospital for the cure of opium victims. Dr. G.
WUkinson says, in his March report, "Our
oldest man was 78, and it might perhaps be
remarked that there was not much point in his
giving up the smaU quantity of opium that he
had taken for 40 years." Again^in The
London and China Telegraph of 3 06tober, we
read, "In this country the beHef is almost
general that every Chinaman is a confirmed
opium-smoker, that opium dens, pestilent
hotbeds of vice and depravity, are found
thicker than our pubHc-houses, whereas the
truth is that not 3 per cent of the population
ever smoke opium at all."
i In 1912, the newly-established Chinese
•RepubHc made a vigorous attempt to stop not
only the import of opium but also opium-growing in China. There was a Conference of
Powers at the Hague, initiated by the United
States; and the wisest of all the Powers invited
seems to have been Turkey, who flatly declined
to attend. In wisdom, at any rate, this country
came a good second; for we read in The
-Times of n   Dec, 1911,   that   "the  British 20
Government, in accepting the invitation, expressed its conviction that the ilHcit traffic in
morphine and cocaine in India, China, and other
Far Eastern countries is becoming an evU worse
than opium-smoking, and that this evU is certain
to increase as restrictions on the production and
use of opium in India and China become more
There is no doubt that under the RepubHc a
great effort was made, but by extremely violent
measures, which never succeed in the long run.
Mr Choy Loy, Official Interpreter, Central
Criminal Court, London, declared that "Dr
Sun Yat Sen, the first President to be elected,
made the taking of opium an offence punishable
with death. And since then thousands have
gone to their last account. The form of death
in such cases is shooting, and often, in Canton, I
have seen victims of the curse placed against
the waU and shot by a firing-party."
At a meeting on 19 April, 1917, the archbishop of Canterbury was sanguine enough to
say in a letter, "One hears on aU sides expressions of genuine thankfulness for what has been
accompHshed. A burden of anxiety, and to
some extent of national self-reproach, has now
been roUed away."  But against the archbishop's SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
most unjust accusation of national reproach
may be set the facts here given, whfle against
his premature exultation there rises up always
the weU-worn Horatian tag: "You may drive
out nature with a pitchfork, yet she wiU always
come back."—And she has.
In December, 1918, "Indian opium to the
value of $16,000 was seized on board the
Chinese Customs Revenue cruiser on which Sir
Francis [Inspector-General of Maritime Customs]
and Lady Aglen were returning to Shanghai
from a visit of inspection to the southern ports
(Times, 3 Jan. 1919)." In the same issue we
read, "Recent revelations show that the
Japanese, ever since Great Britain abolished
the export of Indian opium to China, have been
driving a roaring trade in the drug. Opium is
also extensively cultivated in Korea. Mean-
whfle cultivation in China is increasing by leap-
and bounds in most of the provinces. In
Kweichow the Provincial Assembly officially
permits cultivation (see below)."
The import of opium through the Japanese-
controUed ports of Dairen and Tsingtao feU
from 333 piculs in 1918 to 156 piculs in 1919;
and in the former year 1200 chests of Indian
opium, valued at 24,000,000 taels, are said to SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
have been pubHcly burnt by the Chinese Government, whUe the poppy flourished over large
tracts of the country and the trade in and the
use of the drug showed every sign of reviving
(Maritime Customs Report).
In April, 1919, Dr Wu Lien-teh, the eminent
physician, openly stated at an anti-opium
meeting in Peking that no less than eighteen
tons of morphia was coming annually into
China (28 tons in 1919), most of it to be distributed by Japanese agents. The Peking
correspondent of The Times in the issue of
27 March, 1920, says, "Official records show
that during the first 10 months of 1919 there
was imported into America 250 tons of crude
opium, which represents 35 tons of morphia,
and other noxious drugs;" and one ton being
"sufficient for the annual medicinal needs of all
the Americans from Alaska to Patagonia, it is
notorious that practically the whole of the
opium entering America reaches China in one
form or another." The International Anti-
Opium Association placed the total importation
of morphia into China during 1919 at 1,000,000
ounces. MeanwhUe, the Provincial Government
of the Province of Kweichow had pubHcly
authorized the cultivation of opium for the SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
year 1919, the revenue of the previous year
having amounted to no less than $1,700,000.
" In the spring of 1919 the writer traveUed for
days through .districts in Western Szechuan,
where the cultivation of opium had previously
been completely eradicated, without ever being
out of sight of the countless fields of red and
white poppy in fuU bloom (E. Teichman's
Travels of a Consular Officer in North-West
China)." During this same year, according to a
statement made by Mr BasU Mathews and
pubHshed by the League of Nations Union,
enough morphine was smuggled into China to
give at least three hypodermic injections to
every man woman and chUd of China's
400,000,000 population.
In October, 1922, the Contemporary Review published a striking article by "A
Wandering Naturalist," a few extracts from
which wiU not be out of place. This is how
prohibition is described.—"A tyrant Government, having issued its decree, gave no further
warning; China from the sea to Tibet, trembled
and obeyed. Woe to that man who did not!
Crops were uprooted and trampled on; men were
beaten senseless by the roadside in the midst
of their ruined fields; the job was done with a 24
savage thoroughness which defies parallel." It
was magnificent, said " A Wandering Naturalist, 'J
but it was not statesmanship. In this connexion
may be mentioned the telegram from K'ai-yuan
Fu which reported that "sixty persons were
kiUed and many more injured as the result of a
coUision between the miHtary and farmers in
the province of Shansi, arising out of the drastic
measures taken by the Chinese Government to
prevent the recultivation of opium." The
Wanderer continues: " Opium had scarcely been
suppressed when conditions for its reintroduc-
tion were firmly estabUshed. They all smoke
now—the merchant, the scholar, the mandarin,
the farmer, the muleteer—every one. The
relapse is complete." .Also this: "There are
milHons of people in Asia who demand opium,
and until individual persons can be taught to
see the foUy of their own vice there wiU always
be other people to supply it—for a consideration." § | f     |f
On December 30, 1922, the general secretary
of the International Anti-Opium Association is
said to have witnessed the destruction by fire,
at the Temple of Agriculture, Peking, of opium,
morphia, pipes, lamps, etc., to a huge amount,
greatly exceeding all previous burnings of the SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
year, and valued at over $200,000. And now
comes the deadly fact that the amount of opium
therein was small, and that the great bulk of the
stuff consisted of morphia, morphia piUs, heroin,
etc., in consequence of which no fewer than 1856
persons were arrested.
Now morphia is admittedly several times
more noxious than opium, and cocaine many
times more noxious than either; so that it may
be logicaUy concluded that this present state
of China is worse than the first, especially as no
one who has any real acquaintance with China
and the Chinese wiU beHeve for a moment that
prohibition is ever likely to succeed.
The foUowing last straw may perhaps break
a back that is even more obstinate than the
1923. Dr. Aspland, secretary of the International Anti-Opium Society of Peking, reports
that the growth of the poppy is rapidly increasing
in all directions. "Little or nothing is being
done to limit production, despite Government
protestations on the subject." He goes on to
state that the Chinese Government is now
contemplating an opium monopoly, as the only
means of raising funds, disbanding the large
provincial  armies,  and  saving  the  country. SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
Bribery is rampant. "A member of the Maritime   Customs   service   was   recently   offered
>ioo,ooo to connive at a big deal, and a few
weeks ago a Chinese tidewaiter, on refusing to
pass opium, had his twelve-year-old boy kidnapped; and only by the Customs paying a big
ransom was the child's Hfe saved."   Further,
in the province of Fukien, a province which
last year was practically free from poppy,
taxes are now levied on poppy cultivation
and fine coUected from those who refuse to
.Archdeacon PhUHps, of Kienning, says that
opium is now unblushingly sowed everywhere,"
and that inside a bmlding " I noticed a number of
people smoking, although the outside of the
building had a proclamation recently posted
forbidding it."
The Foochow branch of the International
Anti-Opium Association stated to the foreign
Consuls that from "two districts in southern
Fukien, the miHtary authorities plan to raise no
less than fifteen milHon doUars from opium
taxes alone. It is also a matter of common
knowledge that the five hospitals for 'curing
the opium habit' which have recently been
estabUshed in Foochow by the head of the SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
Opium Suppression Bureau are really f aciHtating
the sale and consumption of opium."
At a meeting of the Central Asian Society on
March 8, Mr A. Jelf, a member of the F.M.S.
Civfl Service, who had worked in British
Malaya and claimed to understand the Chinese,
said that he did not agree with many of the
present-day remarks about opium. Nearly aU
the Chinese he knew smoked opium, and he
would prefer an opium-smoking Chinaman to a
brandy- or stout-drinking one.
A correspondent in China of The China
Express and Telegraph (March 15) writes as
foUows: "The opium situation demonstrates
the absurdity of convening a conference to
discuss the aboHtion of Consular jurisdiction.
The only persons violating opium laws who are
prosecuted under the stringent Criminal Code
are the hapless Russians (amenable to Chinese
jurisdiction), the whole of the Chinese miUtarists
dealing in the drug by the ton."
[Sir John Jordan now writes in The Times, as
foUows:—"Prohibition and State regulation of
opium are both ineffective under present conditions in China. The only effective remedy Hes in
the elimination of miHtarism, which is responsible for the revival of the cultivation."   But this 28
"elimination" impHes nothing less than the
reduction of the independent Tu-chuns and the
unification once more of China. Who is to
accompHsh these feats? The only suggestion
given is that "Chinese chambers of commerce
have already started a movement for the
removal of this incubus, and have soHcited the
co-operation of their foreign friends in the
attainment of several items in their programme."
Any more shadowy plan of action it is difficult
to conceive.
Nor does the Conference, so far as it has gone,
seem to have achieved anything more practicable or even more definite.
"Bishop Brent, the U.S. delegate, strongly
attacked India's poHcy respecting opium"—
a stick which has often been appHed before to
the rump of the British Lion—and proceeded
to show how weU things have been done since
1898 in the PhiHppines. He completely gave
his case away when he went on to say that " the
measures adopted by the U.S. Government
against opium-smoking were still in operation,
but that it would be necessary to come to some
agreement with other countries in order to
suppress the traffic entirely." If America can
fail in an insignificant dominion, how can this
Conference be expected to succeed in a country
as big as Europe to which her rule does not
extend? The bishop further received an
awkward blow from Sir John CampbeU, the
Indian delegate, who " drew attention to figures
in the report, showing that whUe India in 1920
exported 8,000 kflos of raw opium to Formosa,
88,000 kflos reached Formosa from the LTnited
States," a fact which Bishop Brent had to
In The China Express and Telegraph (June 7),
we read that Sir Malcolm Delevingne suggested
the foUowing:—
(1) Suppression of the system of leases and the
constitution of a monopoly; (2) Sale of opium in tue
warehouses of the State; (3) Limitation of the
quantities of prepared opium offered for sale; (4)
Examination of the registration and licensing regime
already introduced in certain colonies in the Far East;
(5) Unification of the price of opium; (6) Unification
of penalties for infraction of the opium laws; (7)
An international agreement for the appHcation of the
above measures; «,8) A periodical study of the
Does any one who knows China believe for a
moment that these proposals could be carried
Here is another extract, not the only one 3o
which shows that unanimity is by no means the
rule of the Conference:—
Acting on the proposal of M. Bourgeois, French
representative, the Commission rejected by 4 votes
(Germany, China, France, Holland) to three (Great
Britain, India, Japan) Article 3, which runs as follow:
" It is recognised that it is for the Government of each
f State to decide what is and what is not to be regarded as medicinal or scientific employment of these
drugs within its own borders."
The discussion was then adjourned at the request
of Sir Malcolm Delevingue, who desired an opportunity of considering the situation, as the vote on
Article 3 had changed the sense of his motion.
The ultimate outcome of this Conference, no
matter what measures may be adopted, or with
what penalties for infraction, it is not difficult to
foresee. Meanwhile, the net results up to the
present moment of Chinese and foreign efforts to
deHver China from the greatly exaggerated
curse of opium have been (1) to increase enormously the area of poppy-growing in the various
provinces concerned—see last mail's advices:—
A huge opium harvest is reported between
Wanhsien and Chungking. There will be a tremendous export this spring from Szechuan.
And (2) to flood the country with morphia,
cocaine, heroin, etc., which are admittedly more
deadly stiU.   Thus, all the money collected and SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
spent by the Anti-Opium Society since its
foundation about fifty years ago might as weU
have been thrown into the sea. Just now, it
would be lamentable to see further sums expended in this direction when so much remains
to be done at home for starving ex-officers, for
housing the poor, for the care of the deaf and
dumb and blind, for prevention of cruelty to
chUdren and animals, and even for matters of
lesser importance, the preservation of the
'Victory" and of our ancient buUdings, etc.,
From The   China Express   and  Telegraph
(June 14):—
The former Chinese Premier, Wang Chung-hui,
speaking to Reuter's correspondent in Paris, said
that China's attitude, as upheld at Geneva by
Mr. Chu, was that, though China fully shared in
the desire of the Western Powers to suppress the
illegitimate production and consumption of the drug,
such suppression was an internal question with which
China should deal herself. International interference
would be misinterpreted by public opinion in China.
The provinces where the poppy was cultivated were
those outside the Central Government's control. As
soon as all China was united under the Central
Government (Dr. Wang is optimistic enough to
speak of union as within the bounds of practical
politics) the suppression of the drug throughout the
country would foUow. SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
Mr. Campbell explained the difficulties created by
the position of China, where opium is being grown to
a wholly unprecedented extent. Turkey and Persia,
he said, must be brought within The Hague Convention, or the attempt to control the supply of raw
opium must inevitably fail. Similarly it was
essential that Switzerland should join the Convention,
seeing that that country is one of the most important
centres in the world of the drug traffic. " If," he
said, in conclusion, " The Hague Convention is
honestly and efficiently enforced to-day, the opium
problem will be solved to-morrow."
Sir John Jordan, interviewed, said : " India used
to export about 100,000 chests a year, mostly to
China; now her exports are 8,000 chests, almost
exclusively to the East Indies. She is prepared to
reduce this if there is a reduced consumption; and if
a progressive reduction over a period of ten or twenty
years is provided for we have in view the disappearance of the Indian side of the problem. China is
producing hundreds of tons of opium, and it looks
almost as though she were going back to the old, bad
state of affairs before the suppression of opium by
agreement with India was brought about."]
Surely, then, in the matter of narcotics or
intoxicants, judging from past experience, it
would have been and would stiU be better to
leave China to work out her own salvation,
which she has always been able to do to her own
complete satisfaction for so many centuries
past.   If   she   prohibits   or   regularizes   the SOME TRUTHS ABOUT OPIUM
importation of any drug, it is for her and not for
us to take the necessary measures against
smuggHng. That course, at any rate, would
leave leisure to weU-meaning but misguided
phUanthropists to devote more attention and
funds to the needs and regeneration of their
own feUow-countrymen. Opium Smoking
[From The Shanghai Evening Gazette, 14 Jan., 1875,
and  republished in Chinese Sketches,   1876.    Written
after seven years in China.]
Many writers on Chinese topics deHght to
dweU upon the slow but sure destruction of
morals, manners, and men, which is being
gradually effected throughout the Empire by the
terrible agency of opium. Harrowing pictures
are drawn of once weU-to-do and happy districts
which have been reduced to know the miseries
of disease and poverty by indulgence in the fatal
drug. The plague itself could not decimate so
quickly, or war leave half the desolation in its
track, as we are told is the immediate result of
forgetting for a few short moments the cares of
life in the enjoyment of a pipe of opium. To
such an extent is this language used, that
strangers arriving in China expect to see nothing
less than the stern reality of aU the horrors they
have heard described; and they are astonished
at the busy, noisy sight of a Chinese town, the
contented, peaceful look of China's viUagers,
and the rich crops which are so readfly yielded
to   her husbandmen   by  many   an   acre   of OPIUM SMOKING
incomparable soU. Where, then, is this scourge
of which men speak? Evidently not in the
highways, the haunts of commerce, or in the
quiet repose of far-off agricultural hamlets.
Bent on search, and probably determined to
discover something, our seeker after truth is
finally conducted to an opium den, one of those
miserable hells upon earth common to every
large city on the globe. Here he beholds the
vice in aU its hideousness; the gambler, the
thief, the beggar, and such outcasts from the
social circle, meet here to worship the god who
grants a short nepenthe from suffering and woe.
This, then, is China, and traveUers' tales are
but too true. A great nation has fallen a prey
to the insidious drug, and her utter annihUation
is but an affair of time I
We confess, however, we have looked for these
signs in vain; but our patience has been rewarded by the elucidation of facts which have
led us to brighter conclusions than those so
generally accepted. We have not judged
China as a nation from the inspection of a few
low opium-shops, or from the half-dozen
extreme cases of which we may have been
personaUy cognisant, or which we may have
gleaned from the reports of medical missionaries 36
in charge of hospitals for native patients. We
do not deny that opium is a curse, in so far as a
large number of persons would be better without
it; but comparing its use as a stimulant with
that of alcohoHc Hquors in the West, we are
bound to admit that the comparison is very
much to the disadvantage of the latter. Where
opium kills its hundreds, gin counts its victims
by thousands; and the appalling scenes of
drunkenness so common to a European city
are of the rarest occurrence in China. In a
country where the power of corporal punishment
is placed by law in the hands of the husband,
wife-beating is unknown; and in a country
where an ardent spirit can be suppHed to the
people at a1 low price, delirium tremens is an
untranslatable term. Who ever sees in China
a tipsy man reeling about a crowded thoroughfare, or lying with his head in a ditch by the
side of some country road? The Chinese people
are naturally sober, peaceful, and industrious;
they fly from intoxicating, quarrelsome sam-
shoo, to the more congenial opium-pipe, which
soothes the weary brain, induces sleep, and
invigorates the tired body.
In point of fact, we have failed to find but a
tithe of that real vice which cuts short so many OPIUM SMOKING
brilHant careers among men who, with all the
advantages of education and refinement, are
euphemistically spoken of as addicted to the
habit of "lifting their Httle fingers." Few
Chinamen seem really to love wine, and opium,
by its very price, is beyond the reach of the
blue-coated masses. In some parts, especially in
Formosa, a great quantity is smoked by the
weU-paid chair-cooHes, to enable them to perform the prodigies of endurance so often required
of them. Two of these feUows wiU carry an
ordinary Chinaman, with his box of clothes,
thirty mUes in from eight to ten hours on the
hottest days in summer. They travel between
five and six nnles an hour, and on coming to a
stage, pass without a moment's delay to the
place where food and opium are awaiting their
arrival. After smoking their allowance and
snatching as much rest as the traveUer wiU
permit, they start once more upon the road;
and the occupant of the chair cannot fail to
perceive the Hghtness and elasticity of their
tread, as compared with the duU, tired gait of
half an hour before. They die early, of course;
but we have trades in civiHsed England in which
a man thirty-six years of age is pointed at as a
patriarch. 38
It is also commonly stated that a man who
has once begun opium can never leave it off.
This is an entire faUacy. There is a certain
point up to which a smoker may go with impunity, and beyond which he becomes a lost
man in so far as he is unable ever to give up the
practice. Chinamen ask if an opium-smoker
has the yin or not; meaning thereby, has he
gradually increased his doses of opium until he
has established a craving for the drug, or is he
stiU a free man to give it up without endangering
his health. Hundreds and thousands stop short
of the yin; a few, leaving it far behind them in
their suicidal career, hurry on to premature old
age and death. Further, from one point of
view, opium-smoking is a more self-regarding
vice than drunkenness, which entafls gout and
other evfls upon the third and fourth generation.
Posterity can suffer Httle or nothing at the hands
of the opium-smoker, for to the inveterate
smoker all chance of posterity is denied. This
very important result wfll always act as an
efficient check upon an inordinately extensive
use of the drug in China, where chUdren are
regarded as the greatest treasures Hfe has to
give, and blessed is he that has his quiver
Indulgence in opium is, moreover, supposed
to blunt the moral feelings of those who indulge;
and to a certain extent this is true. If your
servant smokes opium, dismiss him with as
Httle compunction as you would a drunken
coachman; for he can no longer be trusted. His
wages being probably insufficient to supply
him with his pipe and leave a balance for famUy
expenses, he wiU be driven to squeeze more than
usual, and probably to steal. But to get rid
of a writer or a clerk merely because he is a
smoker, however moderate, would be much the
same as dismissing an employe for the heinous
offence of drinking two glasses of beer and a
glass of sherry at his dinner-time. An opium-
smoker may be a man of exemplary habits,
never even fuddled, stiU less stupefied. He
may take his pipe because he Hkes it, or because
it agrees with him; but it does not foUow that he
must necessarily make himself, even for the time
being, incapable of doing business. Wine and
moonHght were formerly considered indispens-
ables by Chinese bards; without them, no inspiration, no poetic fire. The modern poetaster
who pens a chaste ode to his mistress's eyebrow,
seeks in the opium-pipe that flow of burning
thoughts which his forefathers drained from the OPIUM SMOKING
wine-cup. We cannot see that he does wrong.
We beHeve firmly that a moderate use of the
drug is attended with no dangerous results;
and that moderation in all kinds of eating,
drinking, and smoking, is just as common a
virtue in China as in England or anywhere else.
[In the above view I had not wavered when
I left China at the end of 1892, after many
years of free intercourse with the people, as
weU as with officials.]
Printed by W. Heffer & Sons Ltd.. Cambridge, England. 7 Uajub  U
«€* .


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